End of Session Wrap-Up!
Every year, MCCD shares an end of session update with our members and partners. MCCD's Senior Policy Advisor, Kari Johnson, advocates on behalf of MCCD and its members throughout the legislative session, while also acting as one of the policy co-chairs for the Homes for All coalition. Here is an update from Kari about the 2019 legislative session.
After the Minnesota legislature did not conclude the essential work of passing a state budget on time, Governor Walz called a one day special session on May 24th after a global budget agreement was reached between the Governor, Speaker of the House, Representative Melissa Hortman, and Senate Majority Leader, Senator Paul Gazelka. The 2019 legislative session wrapped up after pulling an all-night special session, ending on May 25th at 7:00am. Below is what made it in the final housing and economic development related bills.
Affordable Housing: Minnesota Housing received a 10% base budget increase, the largest increase of any agency this session, with $5 million one-time funding and $10 million on-going funding for this biennium and the next. Despite a Senate proposal with cuts to some key programs, there were no funding cuts to any programs at Minnesota Housing. The Department of Human Services didn’t fare as well, but $3 million in one-time funding was set aside for housing needs, which went to the Emergency Services Program (ESP).
Additionally, while the legislature was unable to pass a bonding bill (one that would have likely included GO bonds for public housing rehab), there was a lot of bipartisan support for housing infrastructure bonds (HIBs). For the first time ever, a Housing Infrastructure Bonds bill was passed as a stand-alone bill, demonstrating the statewide support for affordable housing funding.
- Housing Infrastructure Bonds - $60 million
- Challenge Program (aka Impact Fund) - $5 million one-time funding
- Manufactured Housing Redevelopment Fund - $2 million base funding
- Family Homeless Prevention and Assistance Program (FHPAP) - $3.5 million base funding increase
- Homework Starts with Home - $3.5 million base funding
- Workforce Homeownership Program (WHOM) - $500K base funding
- Bridges (Transitional Housing Support - $500K base funding increase
- Emergency Services Program (Funded at DHS) - $3 million one-time funding
- Other Notable funding increases & policies passed: MFIP Cash Grant will increase of $100 per month (first increase in 33 years), manufactured home park right of first refusal language, tenant lease clarification, Minnesota Housing project cost reasonableness language re-instated, and the Tax-Exempt Bond 5 consensus items agreed to by housing leaders in 2017.
While the Homes for All Coalition and other affordable housing advocates are celebrating the wins of the 2019 legislative session, the reality is, Minnesota needs to do more in terms of development/preservation of affordable housing, rental assistance and supportive services. The 2018 Wilder Report found that homelessness has gone up 10% since 2015 and Minnesota Housing Partnership’s State of the State 2019 Housing Report found that more than 1 in 4 households are paying more than they can afford for housing. Minnesota also needs to build 300,000 new homes, of which 70% need to be affordable, and Minnesota remains one of the states with the worst homeownership racial disparity gap in the country.
Economic Development: MCCD and our partner in the Minnesota Asset Building Coalition were disappointed when the Business Development Competitive Grant Program didn’t receive a funding increase in the 2019 legislative session. After receiving lots of positive feedback from the Jobs Committee Chairs in both the House and Senate and bipartisan support, the budget for the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) ended up being pretty small and there ended up being a lot of line-items for specific organizations instead of more funding to competitive programs. You can take a look at the final spreadsheet for the Jobs Conference Committee here.